Conway is pursuing a master plan of outdoor trails for hiking and biking

Maps and posters are displayed at a public meeting in Conway where residents were asked for their input on where the city should build new trails.

Maps and posters are displayed at a public meeting in Conway where residents were asked for their input on where the city should build new trails.

Kurt Schwinger is looking for a new bike.

When the weather is nice, Schwinger is on his 22-year-old bike almost every day, often traveling Long Avenue where he’ll see the countryside and wildlife, and even rescue turtles crossing the road.

Shipping issues prevented him from picking up his new car from a store in Mt. Pleasant, but timing could be working in his favor: Conway is now looking to build new biking and hiking trails.

Schwinger was one of the few Conway residents who attended a public meeting Wednesday to tell city officials where they should build these new trails.

“There really isn’t much to Conway,” he said. “If you ride the streets, great, (it’s) the street, the street the street. But you have to get out and into the country, where it’s safe, quiet.

“If they put a bike lane on Long Avenue, because I go there almost every day…oh, that would be so great,” he added.

City leaders began the process Wednesday of gathering public input on where the city should build new hiking and biking trails in the coming years. They put up maps, stickers and markers at Wednesday’s meeting where residents like Schwinger could point out where they want new trails.

Conway officials noted that while the city has several high-quality nature trails, the Riverwalk, and other pedestrian areas, its trails are “trail islands,” meaning they don’t connect to each other. to others. It is not possible, for example, to hike or bike a trail from Lake Busbee to the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge.

Working with a consultant, Colorado-based Design Workshop, Inc., Conway will develop plans for new trails in the coming months and then begin budgeting to complete the projects. The city has a $50,000 budget for the planning and consultation phase and is gathering public input by March, when leaders will hold another public meeting. They also launched an online survey.

Mary Catherine Hyman, deputy city administrator of Conway, said the city will also be interviewing members of conservation, transportation and recreation groups for input. She said the plan developed by the city and the consultants will help leaders prioritize projects in the years to come.

Hyman said the city doesn’t currently have a goal for how many miles of new trails it could build each year, but such a number could be part of its planning process.

“For years we’ve been pushing sidewalks and trails and trails in different parts of the community, but we didn’t have an overall plan on how to connect them all, so this will help that,” he said. she declared. “At some point, hopefully, we will have a network of trails.”

This is something that got Katie Benson excited.

She grew up in Conway before moving to California where she was involved in bike advocacy. She recently returned home and said she’s glad the city is even considering building new trails.

“I’m not a road cyclist, I’m a cyclist who goes where I can on my bike,” she said. “I go shopping by bike if I can. It’s hard to do that here. »

One project she said she would like Conway to explore is a trail between Lake Busbee and the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge. Such a connection could help connect downtown Conway to the Coastal Carolina University campus, she said.

Hyman noted that she’s heard from other residents that they’d like the city to consider a connection between downtown and CCU as well.

“That’s the big thing we hear all the time,” she said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with information about the consultant Conway hired.

This story was originally published February 24, 2022 1:08 p.m.

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J. Dale Shoemaker covers Horry County government with a focus on government transparency, data, and how county government serves residents. A 2016 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, he previously covered Pittsburgh city government for nonprofit media outlet PublicSource and worked on the Data & Investigations team at in New Jersey. The recipient of several local and statewide awards, both the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania and the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone State Chapter, recognized him in 2019 for his investigation of a problematic technology entrepreneur from the Pittsburgh Police, a series that runs the Pittsburgh City Council. to enact a new law on the transparency of city contracts. You can share tips with Dale at [email protected]

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